Wolves’ final home game of the season against Norwich City and an underwhelming end to the campaign were just some of the topics discussed on the latest episode of Matchday Live Extra.
Joining Mikey Burrows was co-commentator and Wolves Hall of Fame full-back Andy Thompson, as well as play-off final hero Lee Naylor as they analysed the gold and black’s penultimate Premier League match of 2021/22.
The trio also spoke about changing the formation to accommodate an attacking trio, a positive impact in the second-half against the Canaries and looking ahead to what could be a busy summer ahead.
On switching to a front three
Thompson said: “I’m not surprised he’s [Lage] gone with the three rather than two. It’s the last home game of the season and I think he just wants to go with more firepower up front and go out there and take the game to Norwich this afternoon. He’s sticking with it and he wants to go out a little bit more on an attacking formation.
“Chiquinho would be disappointed because he did well the other night. He was on the front foot all the time and it was always going to be a difficult game against Man City, although he showed what he could do against Chelsea with the crosses for the goals, but he’ll have opportunities and he’s done himself no harm as he brings a lot of energy down that right side.”
Naylor added: “I don’t know if Dendoncker’s got a knock, but I’m a but surprised by that. He’s got the engine, he gets up and down, plus he covers a lot of ground, he gets in both boxes and if I was him and I was fully fit, I’d have been asking questions about why I wasn’t starting.”
On not threatening Norwich enough
Thompson said: “We just didn’t do enough for me. I think the tempo was slow, the build-up to our attacks wasn’t as quick as what you would’ve like them and Norwich were happy to just sit where they were and catch Wolves on the counter-attack.
“They got the goal from it as well, and Pukki had two or three other chances as well on top of that. The second-half there were glimpses, but not to the standard that we should be showing already.”
Naylor added: “We were a bit lucky in the first-half, but we came out of the second-half and did better.”
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On the impact off the bench
Naylor said: “I think Chiquinho showed positive in what he did with the ball. He made some good runs, put some good crosses into the box and I think Toti and Ait-Nouri were also positives out of the game and they both did well and put good accounts of themselves. They’ve certainly put their names into the manager’s thoughts with their performances.”
Thompson added: “Silva had an opportunity, he got behind the back line of Norwich and tried to square it. If he’s a striker in form, or scoring goals, you’re not passing that, you’re striking it yourself.
“That just shows how he is in front of goal at the moment. If he’s going to be someone who’s here with this team for a while, he’s got to start scoring, but he’s got to be more selfish, and he’s just not that.”
On Jose Sa’s Player of the Season awards
Thompson said: “It’s been tough with the way we played this year, but I think he was more than a worthy winner because of the amount of outstanding performances he had. His handling and the possession in his feet on the ball with his passing range, he’s been doing that all year.
“He’s been a bargain. He’s done a great job and I know he’s had a couple of erratic moments, but he’s been outstanding with the level he’s been playing at throughout the season. It was a tough position to come into because he had big shoes to fill in Rui Patricio, who was an outstanding keeper as well, so to fill that gap and then to go on in his first season the way he has, it’s been outstanding for him.”
Naylor said: “To have your goalkeeper as player of the season, I’ve always found that strange. But every time I’ve seen him, he’s been top drawer, so fair play to him because he’s deserved it.”
On a big summer ahead
Thompson said: “Every club goes through cycles, and we’ve got to the stage now where you could see five or six of these players leave at the end of the season. Whether they’re out of contract or whatever, but that’s football.
“Players go and players come in, people change, and that’s just the cycle of football and what happens. That’s the same as what happens every year and they will sit down and discuss what they want to do.
“We’ve got Saiss, Moutinho [out of contract], even people under contract, there’s going to be questions about whether or not they’ll be at the club, so it will be interesting to see what they want to do as a club going forward.”
On testing the squad at Anfield
Thompson said: “It will be interesting to see what players Bruno starts, but it will also be interesting to see what formation he starts with. There are rumours he wants to play with a flat back four and he’s had his hands tied with Conor Coady playing at the back. But he’s got to make sure he gets his fresh ideas in there.”
Naylor added: “There’s people out there today who have earnt their place for next week. I mentioned before that I thought Toti had a really good game, Ait-Nouri too, and I think that every time you cross that white line, you’re on show.
“This is something I tell my players, ‘Every time you cross that white line, that’s your chance to prove why you’re there and why you should be there the week after and the week after that.’ And for a few of the players out there today, you can’t really be saying that.”
You can watch Matchday Live Extra 30 minutes before every Wolves kick-off this season, on Twitter and on Wolves TV, before heading over to the Wolves App following full-time for all the post-match reaction.